Mammoth’s working families face immediate threat: hunger

Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Reporter

On Sunday, they had a steady paycheck coming in.

The next day, Monday, they did not.

And most likely, they will not see another one until at least Dec. 27 - and that is only if the Southern California Region that the Eastern Sierra is now assigned to has enough ICU capacity left to begin pulling back some of the new ‘Stay at Home restrictions that went into place on Monday. As of this week, the best estimate is the ICU capacity will not begin to recover until some time in January, at the earliest.

So, once again, Mammoth’s working families and individuals, the ones that depend on hourly wages or tips, are facing that most immediate threat – hunger – even as Congress dithers. And that's not all. A host of other threats loom as well; CARES Act eviction moratoriums run out on Dec. 31, as do pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

Now, however, getting enough to eat is the most pressing need for many.

And so it is that once again, that local agencies and locals are being called on to dip in deep and help out.

Back in our snowy, dark March, food bank lines filled the Bass Outlet mall every day it operated until the end of April. While Mammoth Lakes Tourism Director John Urdi, who spearheaded that effort (helped by dozens and dozens of volunteers) doesn’t expect things to be quite as dire this time, he is still expecting as many as 200 people in the town to need food and as soon as next week, he said Wednesday.

“We think there will be about 200 people who have an immediate need,” he said. He has a plan for it this time, but it will not look quite the same.

“We are not going to be doing what we did in the spring this time, but instead, we are going to be partnering with IMACA (Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action), he said. They have a way to buy direct from many suppliers and they already have a distribution process set up. We think if we can come up with the ability to distribute food every two weeks, instead of once a month in Mammoth, we should be able to meet the most pressing needs of our families.”

To that end, he is setting up a way to donate through the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce non-profit, called the Mammoth Lakes Community Foundation, where people who want to help can donate starting this week, he said.

The same non-profit is also running a Mountain View Fire relief recovery donation site; those who wish to donate to the food bank should be clear to write that in the subject line of their check or online donation, he said (see below for how to do this).

The new food bank should be up and running next week, on Tuesday, Dec. 15 he said, and it will be located at the back parking lot of the Main Street Promenade, not in front of the Bass Outlet store like during the spring.

“IMACA has been doing 50-60 families here in Mammoth, with an average donation of about 80 pounds of food a month, once a month and we think if we get ready for 200 families, plus do it two times a month, we should be able to meet most needs,” he said.

“Remember, the main reason we part of this is to help offset expenses so that we can keep people here in town so that when the Stay at Home is lifted, they can quickly go back to work,” he said, explaining why MLT was involved in this process.

“For next Tuesday we need to be prepared for 200 families and then we are going to gauge how it goes. We think the next day will be Dec. 29. If it gets to crazy and hectic, we will change to the front area. They do everything from the back of a truck so that will offset the need for as many volunteers as we needed last time,” he said, noting he had enough volunteers for next week at this time.

Go to for more information on where and how to donate.